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Recognizing 5 Diet Myths & Overcoming them to Lose Weight

Updated on February 27, 2014
your measuring tape can be your best friend - or your worst nightmare
your measuring tape can be your best friend - or your worst nightmare | Source

Introduction

Deciding to go on a diet is a common, but nothing can be more discouraging than stepping on the scale week after week and not seeing any real progress. Failing to see all of your efforts paying off in weight loss often leaves people feeling discouraged - and many of them give up on dieting for weight loss at all. What's even worse is committing to a diet and exercise plan only to discover that you've gained weight instead of losing it.


Losing weight and getting healthy is an admirable goal - and it's a goal that is worth pursuing. If nothing more, changing your lifestyle enables a boost in your self-confidence, which translates into an ability to stick to a goal and see them achieved overall. Reaching set goals and surpassing them with real, measurable results is motivating and encouraging. Getting healthier is better for you physically and emotionally. When beginning your diet plan, however, you need to recognize that there are a lot of dieting myths that are constantly circulating. If you want to genuinely achieve real, permanent weight loss, recognizing these myths and moving past them becomes even more important when striving for the goals that you've set for yourself.

Myth #1: There is no difference between low fat and low calorie

Don't be fooled by all of the marketing gimmicks geared towards people who are genuinely striving to lose weight, and don't automatically trust the advertising when picking up groceries. When you find an item advertised as "low fat" to the "normal" version on the shelf right next to it, compare the labels. Take a look at what kind of juggling is taking place. Most of the time, the difference between a low fat product and the traditional product is minimal at best. There may, in fact, be fewer calories as a result of fat, but in exchange the fat has usually been compensated for with additional sugars. This is done primarily because removing fat alters the taste, and the added sugar helps stabilize the flavor.

The additional danger of consuming foods labeled as "low fat" is that a large majority of people tend to eat approximately 25-30% more of the low-fat items, negating the benefit of the low fat product to begin with. Keep in mind that now all fats are automatically bad and should therefore be avoided. Some fats are healthy - and even necessary for a well-balanced diet. Dieticians recommend that between 20-35% of all calorie consumption should be from fats that are considered to be healthy for your heart. These beneficial fats allow dieters to feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time as well as providing lasting energy. In the quest for healthy fats, be on the lookout for power foods like salmon, raw nuts, olive oil and avocados.

People often resist the idea of regularly tracking progress.  Stepping on the scale is important, though, and should be done at least once a week to monitor progress
People often resist the idea of regularly tracking progress. Stepping on the scale is important, though, and should be done at least once a week to monitor progress | Source

Does understanding these myths aid you in your weight loss goals?

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Myth #2: Portion Size is Less Important than Portion Content

Contrary to what you may have heard, portion size is incredibly important to a successful diet plan. You can eat nothing but "healthy" foods, but these foods still contain calories and fat - no matter how healthy they are. You can cut unnecessary fat out of your diet as much as possible and turn your attention to lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy options, but it still is entirely possible to consume too much of these foods and bring your positive weight loss efforts to an idle state. The most effective diet plans focus on creating a continual calorie deficit over time.

In order to maximize your weight loss and keep yourself on-track, measure your portions carefully. Measuring your food is a good way to still be able to eat the foods that you enjoy responsibly - without losing sight of your long-term goals. Measuring is especially helpful when dealing with foods like mayonnaise that are high in fat. After measuring food for awhile, you'll learn to gauge portion size by sight. Until then, however, a set of measuring cups and/or spoons along with a food scale can certainly come in handy.

Myth #3: Weight Loss Plans are Only Short-Term Commitments

When striving to lose those extra holiday pounds, it can be easy to see weight loss as a short-term solution. Unfortunately, committing to a healthy diet and a regular exercise plan is more of a change in lifestyle rather than a temporary change in eating habits. It's true that a successful dietary change will result in weight loss, but the ultimate goal is long-term weight control and healthy management. You don't want to embark on a binge diet and lose several points only to rebound and gain the weight back as soon as your fad diet stops. You don't want to commit to a dietary plan that is unsustainable over time. Instead, find one that is easily followed for the long-term, and focus on overall health and wellness instead of immediate short-term results.

If you find the weight loss goals are difficult to achieve, try making a list of the things that seem to stand in your path. Instead of trying to battle these obstacles all at once, make them more manageable by addressing them individually. This task is not as difficult as it may initially seem. If you are good with your diet all day and then binge on a double serving of desert with your dinner, make a goal out of cutting back to a single serving. Once that goal has been mastered, work on cutting back to a partial serving. Tackling your obstacles one at a time. They are far more manageable and achievable that way.

regular exercise at least five times a week is a fundamental key to losing the weight - and keeping it off
regular exercise at least five times a week is a fundamental key to losing the weight - and keeping it off | Source

Do You Incorporate Daily Exercise into your Routine when Trying to Lose Weight?

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Myth #4: It's Okay to Bank Daily Calories for Larger Meals

The key to ultimately successful weight loss is to maintain a healthy calorie deficit over time. That does not mean that you can necessarily achieve your weight loss goals by starving yourself throughout the day only to overindulge at dinner time. When you limit your eating to one large meal, you often run the risk of overindulging when you finally do eat. Restricting your eating habits this way also disrupts the body's hormones that moderate the feeling of hunger. It can throw healthy eating habits out of whack and lead to a cycle of negative habits that can cause your goals to fall short.

Make sure to eat smaller meals regularly. Don't skip breakfast - it helps moderate and control your hunger throughout the day and aids in healthy digestion. Eating a small, balanced meal or healthy snack every three to four hours encourages healthy habits and makes the process of losing weight more successful overall.

Myth #5: When Losing Weight, It's Impossible to Eat Too Little

This particular myth is incredibly prevalent - and incredibly dangerous, while simultaneously minimizing your opportunity to reach your overall goal. It's also very difficult to maintain an extremely calorie restrictive diet over time, which can lead to a cycle of not eating followed by overeating. No matter how many times you repeat this cycle, the scale just isn't going to move. By minimizing your calorie intake by extreme amounts, you're actually slowing down your body's metabolic rate and reducing your ability to lose the weight at all. Your body attempts to conserve all of the energy it can just to function and you may even lose muscle mass as a result.

Instead of trying to set an impossibly high goal, set a realistic one. Don't aim to lose 20 pounds in a week. Aim for a steady one-pound per week until your weight loss goals are realized. Limit your average daily calories by 200-500 and make a goal to get out an exercise more. You want to make sure that the weight you do lose is fat - not muscle - so you should never consume less than 1200 calories per day.

Conclusion

The secret to weight loss is not found in the newest "miracle" drug or herb. True weight loss can only be found in a commitment to a change in lifestyle. Limit your calorie intake in a healthy way, not an extreme one Make exercise a fun and healthy habit, not a chore. By combining a healthy diet with regular exercise, you can give your goals the best possible chance for success and create goals that are attainable - with commitment, dedication and hard work.

Don't be afraid to celebrate your little victories as well as your big ones.
Don't be afraid to celebrate your little victories as well as your big ones. | Source

Bonus: 30 Tips to Enable Healthy Eating on the Go

1. When eating out, balance out your meal with extra activity and exercise

2. Keep a supply of healthy snacks in your desk or handbag for a quick and healthy boost

3. Carry a few non-perishable snack alternatives in your bag rather than purchasing a more unhealthy option

4. Instead of perusing all of the aisles at the grocery store, stick to the perimeter to find healthier alternatives

5. Keeping leftovers in the fridge provides a quick, easy and healthy meal

6. Substitute a meal with a smoothie and get a healthy fruit serving as well as a tasty treat

7. Make healthy breakfast choices rather than just reaching for an easier bagel or muffin

8. When eating a sandwich, choose a wrap instead of bread. If that's not possible, choose whole wheat

9. When enjoying a slice or two of pizza, order lots of veggies and lean meats

10. Avoid all-you-can-eat or buffet-type restaurants

11. When ordering salads, sandwiches or items with dressing or sauce, ask to have the sauce or dressing on the side to easily control portion size

12. When enjoying ethnically diverse foods like pitas, fajitas and stir fry, keep toppings to a minimum

13. Snack on low-fat, lower calorie foods prior to eating your meal's main course

14. When building your own salad, choose the leafy, dark greens and brightly colored veggies

15. Replace your side of fries with a salad, fruit, baked chips or a baked potato

16. Use lean meats for protein and exchange dressings and spreads with low-fat alternatives

17. Substituting a baked potato for fries is a lower-calorie and lower fat solution to great taste

18. Add to the nutritional value of your subs and sandwiches by adding lots of fresh veggies as toppings

19. Plate size does matter - you will feel fuller eating the same sized portion on a smaller plate

20. Share your meal with a friend or family member

21. Instead of having a desert alone, order it and share it with the table

22. Limit the servings of alcohol you consume. It contains calories and adds no nutritional value

23. When you know that you're going out in the evening, plan your day's meals and have a lighter breakfast and lunch

24. Avoid indulging on bread or chips until your main meal arrives

25. Don't be afraid to special-order your food in order to make it healthier

26. Stick to regularly sized portions, or order off of the kid's menu when possible

27. Limit your portion size and stop eating when you first feel full - don't pressure yourself to clean your plate

28. Learn to read between the lines on a restaurant menu and choose items with keywords like roasted, baked, steamed, braised, poached, broiled or grilled while avoiding keywords like breaded, batter-fried, crispy, pan-fried, creamed or buttered

29. Don't be afraid to take your time when examining the menu. Try not to rush and make your selections carefully

30. Try not to stop at the first restaurant you pass. Plan your dining out experiences carefully and choose restaurants with healthier options available on the menu.

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    • JMcFarland profile image
      Author

      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Thanks a lot, Alpha. There is so much misinformation or there and dozens of products claiming to be miracle weight loss drugs. I'm losing weight the healthy way, and I'm more proud of my accomplishments for that than a pill or product. I'm putting in the effort, and I'm seeing the results.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      Nice informative hub with some good and practical weight loss tips JMcFarland. There are many people that have difficulty losing weight simply because of myths and false knowledge. Thumbs up on your hub.

    • JMcFarland profile image
      Author

      Julie McFarland 3 years ago from The US of A, but I'm Open to Suggestions

      Thanks for stopping by, I tried to include stuff for anyone.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      Sorry I didn't answer any of your polls, but I'm not dieting. That said, even though I'm not dieting nor ever have, I came to read your hub because I was looking for healthy eating tips. Articles such as yours which provide the food and exercise advice without all the nonsense of diet pills and such also help people like me who want to eat healthy and even gain a little weight. You provide good reminders about what is good nutrition and what isn't.